Yesterday I was talking to my dear eight limb // life co-creator Liz V about her almost three year old. We were discussing how three year olds feel powerless but crave being in charge. I reminded her of a little thing that I used to do with the elves when they needed a boost of confidence and I needed an easy transition. I would ask them to make a choice about what we were going to do rather than tell them what it was. In other words not: we are going inside now. but this:
Do you want to play with the hose for five more minutes then go inside or do you want to go inside right away?
The result of both of these two questions is the same, we’d go inside. But the there is a moment of choice that gave the elves the sense of power as if they were the ones deciding what we were going to do.
I still offer such options to my elves now that they are older reminding them that the actual outcome might not change but the route to get there is in their hands. I was struck today that often the same thing happens with us as adults. The end of the path (whatever that looks like to you) often is already decided but how we chose to experience our time on it is really in our hands.
What we have to decide is are we going to fight our way there tooth and nail, with resistance and struggle, or are we going to be open to the softness and ease that is possible. We can muscle our way through creating enemies, and competition and pain and distance between those that we join/pass/include on our travels. Or alternatively we can breathe deeply and walk our path with honesty, openness and generosity. The latter choice may take longer and be less flashy, but we will have gotten where we are going with ease and with community. We will know that we have taken this path with integrity.
The same kind of choice holds true when you step on your yoga mat: do you want to resist every pose and push to your max, or are you going to listen to the sounds/voices of your body and breathe and be in the moments as they come? By the time the practice is over you will have reached the same place: Savasana but how you got there is fundamentally different.
When I teach I ask students if they are breathing because there are many days when I know I am not. When I muscle through my practice to get to the end and to say I did it, I often feel sore and more tension than before I started. I do not experience my yoga. I reach for the expression of the poses but not the feel of them, not the truth of them.
Every time you step on the path you make the choice. Every time you step on the mat you make the choice. Do you move with ease, integrity and truth or do you push and struggle and prod your way to the end? Either scenario lands you at home, but what you have gained or lost along the way is different.
In an age of push push push and climb climb climb we must truly step back to the truth of what toddlers have to decide: can we go with a smile or will we throw down with struggle. Each day we must make this same choice in our relationships, our careers, our words, our yoga.
I chose ease and truth.
What way will you chose to get where you are going?